Are Great Writers Born That Way? You might be surprised...

When you meet an author, you may think they started out great, or just have amazing natural talent.

That might be the case, but usually isn’t. It’s like music. Every once in awhile you come across a prodigy—someone born with a musical gift that surpasses the rest of us mortals. I imagine there are authors out there like that, but not as many as you might think.

For most, learning to be a great writer took plain old hard work. They started out simply, like a kid learning to play an instrument.

Piano Stock Photo

For us writers trying to work our way toward great, what we started with was likely pretty terrible (maybe not for you, but it was for me!). We had to learn and fail and take constructive criticism, and keep learning. And if we stuck with it, like that kid learning the piano, one day we’re good. Maybe someday we'll even hit great.

Like musicians, each person has a different level of natural talent. It helps, but there are times when a person with natural talent refuses to learn the skills to turn that natural ability into excellence. 

Sometimes the person without natural talent who is willing to work at it and keep learning surpasses the one who believes what they were gifted with is all it takes.

I wrote my first novel in high school. It was about a girl whose parents died and she had to leave the big city to go live in the country with extended family. The father was a pastor, the daughter was rebellious and ended up pregnant. The book dealt with the issue of abortion, forgiveness, and adjusting to a new life. Of course the main part was the romance.

And it had horses in it, too, on a ranch. I know zilch-o about horses, but I had a whole section where the main guy was breaking a wild horse. I shudder to even think of how much my ignorance showed through that whole book! Not only was it terribly written, it was cheesy, and I didn’t even think about researching things I was writing about.

A couple of years ago, I actually found a paper copy of this travesty in the garage. I thought maybe I could revamp it and make it good, but after reading through just the first page I knew that was out of the question. The writing was terrible. I threw the whole thing in the trash. I’m kind of sentimental about such things, but the fear of someone discovering it someday and reading it was bigger than my nostalgic feelings!

So all that to say, if you feel you haven’t arrived yet in your writing, that’s a good thing. Most of us haven’t arrived, and the day we feel we have, we stop learning and stop our potential to become better than we are now.

And don’t let a lousy piece stop you, or make you think you can’t be a great writer. Think of it, rather, as a step in the right direction. Just like a kid on the piano, the more you practice the better you’ll be.

Happy practicing!


  1. Great encouraging post! I especially liked this, "Most of us haven’t arrived, and the day we feel we have, we stop learning and stop our potential to become better than we are now." That spoke volumes to me. Thank you! Blessings!

  2. Thanks, Kim! I could relate to this post on lots of levels. I feel like I am the slowest writer in my critique group and, have the most to learn! But I keep plugging away and I am sure it will pay off in time.
    Thanks again,

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